2005-08-11 / Direct Answers

Answers From The Teacher

My intentions are always good about helping my children practice their academic skills over the summer, but somehow we never get around to it. Now August is here, and we haven’t done anything. Are there some doable ideas to get us on track?

Take a blank calendar; fill in each day (or weekdays only, if you choose) with ideas for short practice sessions with your children. Some ideas might be practicing addition facts, subtractions facts, etc. Then, add some language arts ideas - perhaps reading three poems aloud, writing a poem or reading the newspaper together. Because this is your entire family’s academic calendar from now until school starts, allow your children to make suggestions, perhaps by telling you where they feel they need help. Don’t leave out arts and crafts to help the little ones learn how to use scissors and glue. You can include science and social studies ideas as well. The more varied the topics are, the more interest the calendar may generate with your children.

The beauty of this personal calendar is that it may produce ideas you can do together as a family. Use your calendar as a reference and let your children guide the way. If you stumble across a better idea than what you’ve written down, go with it. Whatever you do now academically can only help prepare your children for when school begins in September. That way you can get over the guilt that you didn’t do anything in July. You and your children probably had a lot of fun together, and because everyone needs a little break now and then, your time was not wasted. Having fun is an im-portant part of life.

How can I help my children gain an appreciation for sculpture? We live in an area where there are examples of outdoor sculpture, but my children don’t seem interested in the least. How can I get them to appreciate what the artist has created?

If you’re pointing out examples of the sculptures around them, you are already helping them to appreciate it. You can talk to your children about colors and shapes, as well as the materials the artist used. You can keep it as simple as, “Do you like that one? Why or why not?” or “What does that look like to you?” Because there are no right or wrong answers to these questions, your children won’t feel pressured to give you the “correct” answer.

You may want to attend a museum show, which includes a sculpture collection. Guided tours are often very informative, and because art interpretation can be so personal, you can hear what others think and feel about certain pieces, helping you and your children form your own views.

The important thing here is your children don’t miss the artistic beauty that exists in their own neighborhood or town. They’ll soon learn that you value the outdoor sculpture around you, and although they may never come out and say it, they will grow up learning that public art is for everyone to enjoy.

Send questions to: Answers from the Teacher, P.O. Box 54, South Egremont, MA 01258. Questions may also be e-mailed to answersfromtheteacher@adelphia.net.

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